Daryl Morey

Southwest Notes: Draft Day Trades, W. Green, Morey, Spurs

Before a Tuesday report indicated that the Rockets are trying to trade up for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft. Kelly Iko of The Athletic, along with beat writers for other teams, took a look at some potential deals Houston could make with the No. 2 pick. Some were considered hard passes (such as a trade-down with the Kings), others were considered interesting but not good enough (including a trade with the Magic for Nos. 5 and 8, and Wendell Carter Jr.), and only a couple were deemed acceptable. The bottom line: there are deals to be made, but it won’t be easy.

Meanwhile, William Guillory of The Athletic examined four potential trades for the Pelicans with the 10th pick, with beat writers from the Kings, Magic, Cavaliers, and Wolves chiming in on the likelihood of each respective deal’s appeal.

We have more from around the Southwest Division:

  • Scott Kushner of the New Orleans Times-Picayune profiles Willie Green, who is expected to be named the next Pelicans head coach. One of the primary appeals of Green, Kushner writes, as opposed to Stan Van Gundy or Alvin Gentry, is his focus on player relationships and establishing trust, rather than instilling a rigidity and system. “The best coaches aren’t necessarily the ones that talk about Xs and Os,” Green said in an interview last year. “It’s doing everything from a place of love. People feel that.”
  • When the Rockets were sold to Tillman Fertitta, part of the agreement included guaranteed five-year extensions for GM Daryl Morey, CEO Tad Brown, and others, which had to be paid out even if those execs joined other teams before the deals expired, writes Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. This could have helped incentivize higher-ups to step down and pursue new opportunities, Feigen notes. This report comes on the heels of Brown being named CEO of the Sixers and New Jersey Devils.
  • As two teams that have eschewed all-out tanking in order to find other ways to rebuild, the Spurs could look to Suns GM James Jones for inspiration, writes Mike Finger of The San Antonio Express-News. Jones was not without his fair share of criticism for his moves in 2019 to maintain competitiveness while retooling around star Devin Booker, Finger writes. But by following his own compass – including the surprise selection of playoff breakout Cameron Johnson with the 11th pick after trading down from No. 6 – and taking advantage of the opportunity to trade for Chris Paul, Jones has found his own way to bring the Suns to greatness. Whether the Spurs can do the same remains to be seen.

Daryl Morey Offers No Hints On Ben Simmons’ Future

Sixers president Daryl Morey met with reporters today for the first time since his team was bounced from the playoffs Sunday night and it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn to Ben Simmons, writes Tim Bontemps of ESPN.

Morey was asked several times during the virtual press conference if he expects the former No. 1 pick to be on the roster next season. He didn’t make a definite commitment on Simmons’ future and said, “I think it’s pretty straightforward what certain players need to improve.”

That statement echoes comments Simmons made Sunday night about his poor free throw shooting and lack of offense in general. He shot 34.7% from the foul line in the playoffs and scored a combined 19 points in the final three games of the conference semifinals.

Coach Doc Rivers has said the team plans intensive offseason shooting work for Simmons, who disappeared offensively in the fourth quarter throughout the Atlanta series.

Morey didn’t tip his hand on his plans for Simmons.

“We have a very strong group we believe in,” he said. “None of us can predict the future of what’s going to happen in any, in any place. We love what Ben brings, we love what Joel (Embiid) brings, we love what Tobias (Harris) brings, in terms of what’s next we’re gonna do what’s best for the 76ers to give us the best chance to win the championship with every single player on the roster.”

Morey attributed the second-round loss to issues with the offense and said the team needs to become more efficient on that end of the floor. He said he’s still processing the unexpected defeat and admits the Sixers are a long way from where he wants them to be.

“I think if you replay that Game 7 a bunch of times and, you know, we execute better, then we win,” Morey said. “But look, reality is reality. We didn’t do it and, and frankly if we’re squeaking by the second round that just tells me we’re not, we’re unfortunately not good enough, probably to win the title so we need to get better. But, you know, the game, that series, is still incredibly painful.”

He singled out the effort by Embiid, who played the entire semifinal series with a small meniscus tear in his right knee. Even though he admitted being limited by the injury, Embiid averaged 30.4 points and 12.7 rebounds in the seven games.

Morey added that Embiid will receive a full medical review from the team’s doctors before any decision is made about offseason surgery.

Morey also addressed the negative stories that have been written about the team since Sunday’s loss, contending the dire public perception of the organization isn’t deserved.

“People (are) saying the Sixers are in a bad situation,” he said. “I don’t choose to come here, (Rivers) doesn’t choose to come here if this is a bad situation. I mean, really 25 or 26 teams in this league would love to be in our situation with an MVP-caliber top player and All-Star, near All-Star, great young players who are signed for the long term, good veterans. So, we’ve got a good foundation. We just have to do better, I have to do better, everyone has to do better.”

Sixers Notes: Simmons, Rivers, Morey, Curry

Sixers head coach Doc Rivers defended the way he uses Ben Simmons after the team dropped Game 5 against the Hawks Wednesday night, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic.

Philadelphia had a massive meltdown as a 26-point lead slipped away, and Simmons played a significant role, missing key free throws down the stretch and shooting just 4-of-14 from the line for the game. After talking about the need to be more aggressive, he took just four shots from the field Wednesday, finishing with eight points and nine assists.

Simmons is a miserable 22-of-67 on foul shots during the playoffs, and Atlanta has been taking advantage by intentionally fouling him. As a result, Rivers had to sit Simmons down for several important possessions late in the fourth quarter. That takes the Sixers’ best passer and defender off the court and leaves the team with unfamiliar lineups.

“Do you want to do that?” Rivers said. “The answer would be no. But, you know, when Ben makes ’em, we get to keep him in, when he doesn’t, we can’t. And that’s just the way it is.”

There’s more from Philadelphia:

  • Rivers and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey both deserve blame for some of the team’s flaws that are being exposed this series, Bodner adds. Rivers continues to give important minutes to a reserve unit that hasn’t been effective, Bodner notes, while Morey failed to find an alternative backup center to Dwight Howard, who is a bad matchup against spread offenses.
  • The Sixers, who also blew an 18-point lead in Game 4, are searching for answers on why they can’t hold on to a big advantage, per Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer. Tobias Harris believes the team loses focus once it gets in front by a comfortable margin. “The weakness right now is when we gain those leads, we kind of go away from what got us there,” Harris said. “That was playing defense, moving the basketball, getting some good looks. And that’s hurt us the last two games.”
  • Seth Curry never lost confidence in his shot, even as he struggled to find a place in the NBA, writes Alex Kennedy of Basketball News. Curry had one of the best games of his career Wednesday, posting 36 points, three rebounds, seven three-pointers and two steals in the Game 5 loss.

Daryl Morey, Sixers Fined For Tampering Violation

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey received a $75K fine on Monday evening for violating the NBA’s anti-tampering rules, the league announced in a press release. The 76ers were also hit with a separate $75K fine for the violation.

The NBA explained in its statement that the penalty was a response to a social media post Morey made on June 3 regarding Warriors star Stephen Curry.

Morey, on Twitter, shared a screenshot of an Instagram post in which Curry praised his brother, Sixers sharpshooter Seth Curry, following Seth’s 30-point outburst in Game 5 of the 76ers’ first-round series vs. Washington. Morey added the caption, “Join ’em,” which was widely interpreted as a call for this season’s scoring champ to join his younger brother in Philadelphia.

Morey later responded to his tweet with the following clarification: “My goodness folks I am talking about the fact that we are all thrilled @sdotcurry is here with the @sixers — nothing else.” However, that wasn’t enough to dissuade the NBA from fining both the Sixers and their head of basketball operations.

This is the second time this season that Morey has been fined for a violation of the NBA’s anti-tampering rules. He was also hit with a $50K penalty in December for a tweet about James Harden.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Morey, Trade Deadline, Harris

The Sixers got good news this morning about Joel Embiid‘s left knee, but there’s more to the story than the MRI results, writes Derek Bodner of The Athletic. Embiid is projected to miss two to three weeks with a bone bruise after a scary fall in Friday’s game.

Bodner estimates that April 3 is probably the earliest realistic date for Embiid to return, which will affect Philadelphia’s hopes for the top seed in the East. That would mean a 10-game absence, with eight of those games against teams with records of .500 or better. Losing Embiid could affect not only the playoff seedings, but also the MVP race and president of basketball operations Daryl Morey’s desire to make a major trade by the March 25 deadline.

An extended absence could affect Embiid’s next contract as well, Bodner adds. If Embiid makes an All-NBA team this season or in 2021/22, he will be eligible for a Designated Veteran Extension, which means his salary could start at 35% of the salary cap, rather than 30%.

There’s more on the Sixers:

  • Morey gained a reputation for being aggressive at the trade deadline in Houston, but he’s cautioning Sixers fans not to count on a major deal this year, according to Dan Gelston of The Associated Press. Morey likes the cohesiveness of his current players, who are off to a 26-12 start. “We have a great group, a great chemistry, they’re playing at a high level, they play even better against very good teams,” he said. “That’s something fragile and we need to respect it. Long story short, everyone expecting some big thing, I would ask them to be excited about who we have more than what’s possible.”
  • The Sixers are “loaded with assets” as they approach the trade deadline, ESPN’s Bobby Marks says in an Instagram video. They have an $8.29MM trade exception and seven players with expiring contracts. Marks expects Philadelphia to be in the mix for Andre Drummond, LaMarcus Aldridge and Kyle Lowry.
  • Tobias Harris feels like he has something to prove after being overlooked for the All-Star Game, writes Noah Levick of NBC Sports Philadelphia. Harris wasn’t selected as a reserve even though he averaged 20.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game in the first half of the season. “When me and (head coach Doc Rivers) talk about it, I just tell him, ‘Look, I’ve got a bounty out for all the coaches that didn’t vote for me, all the national media that skipped over me,’” Harris said. “It is what it is, but me and Doc discuss that you make your name known in the playoffs and leading this team, and being solid and what you do day in and day out. And that was my mentality.”

Atlantic Notes: Morey, Embiid, Raptors, Griffin, Harden

Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey has been blown away by Joel Embiid‘s talent, comparing him favorably to former Most Valuable Player James Harden. In an interview with Howard Beck of Sports Illustrated, Morey lavished praise on his MVP candidate. “I get in trouble when I say stuff like this but he’s the most unstoppable thing I’ve ever seen,” he said. “And I’ve seen a lot. You know who I’ve seen. But I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Morey also admits he’s irritated by the Nets’ collection of stars. “I mean, it’s annoying,” he said. “I would rather have all the good players in the West. So that’s probably annoying. But you know, everything else will get me fined, I think.”

We have more from the Atlantic Division:

  • The Raptors will allow up to 3,500 fans at Tampa’s Amalie Arena beginning on March 19, according to a team press release. Toronto begins its post-All-Star break schedule at home against Atlanta on Thursday, then heads out for a three-game road swing. The Raptors, who have 18 home games remaining after Thursday’s contest, began the season allowing fans in Amalie Arena, but closed their doors in early January following an increase in coronavirus cases in the area.
  • James Harden is sure that the Nets’ latest addition, Blake Griffin, will be highly motivated to win a ring, Michael Scotto of HoopsHype tweets. Harden noted that Griffin gave back $13.3MM to the Pistons in his buyout. “I’m sure he wants to win. If he’s passed up on money to stay in Detroit, he wants to win, and he wants to have an opportunity to play meaningful minutes. I’m assuming that’s one of the reasons why he came.” Harden also believes Griffin can contribute with his improved ball-handling and 3-point shooting in recent seasons, Scotto relays in another tweet.
  • Griffin’s play-making from the power forward position gives the Nets a new dimension, according to Alex Schiffer of The Athletic. Schiffer breaks down all of Griffin’s assists this season to demonstrate how he could help in that aspect.

Western Notes: Thunder, Rockets, Morey, Doncic, LeBron

Over half of the NBA’s teams are either currently hosting fans at their home games or have announced plans to do so soon. However, the Thunder won’t be joining that list. The team sent out an email to season ticket holders confirming that fans won’t be allowed to attend games at Chesapeake Energy Arena for the rest of the season, as Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman tweets.

The decision was based on several factors,” the Thunder said in their email, according to Mussatto (Twitter link). “The ultimate one being that the overall health and safety of our fans and our community is the most important thing to us.”

Let’s round up a few more items from around the Western Conference…

  • Multiple sources within the Rockets organization believe that former general manager Daryl Morey decided to leave the team last fall in part because he expected James Harden would want out, reports Tim MacMahon of ESPN. According to MacMahon’s sources, Morey had expressed reservations last summer about his ability to “keep James happy” without the assets necessary to keep upgrading the roster.
  • Mavericks guard Luka Doncic has been downgraded to doubtful for Wednesday night’s game vs. Oklahoma City, but a source tells ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that Doncic is still expected to play in this weekend’s All-Star Game even if he sits out tonight. Doncic is also tentatively on track to participate in the Skills Challenge.
  • Lakers star LeBron James, who ranks fourth in the NBA this season in total minutes played, will sit out the second half of the team’s back-to-back set on Wednesday, sources tell Shams Charania of The Athletic (Twitter link). According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James will receive treatment on his left ankle, but like Doncic, he expects to play in Sunday’s All-Star Game.

And-Ones: Williams, Ezeli, China, Koumadje

Former NBA center Johnathan Williams has parted ways with Turkish team Galatasaray, according to a team press release. The undrafted big man appeared in 15 games, including six starts, with the Wizards last season. He also saw action in 17 games for Washington’s G League affiliate, the Capital City Go-Go. He played in 24 games with the Lakers during the 2018/19 season.

We have more from around the basketball world:

  • Former Warriors center Festus Ezeli is in quarantine in the G League bubble in Orlando and will be out Sunday, Marc Spears of ESPN tweets. He’s in the player pool there, making him eligible to be picked up by any team. Ezeli, 31, logged 170 NBA games but hasn’t played since the 2016 NBA Finals due to knee injuries.
  • China Central Television (CCTV) still isn’t showing NBA games, Bill Shea of The Athletic reports. CCTV stopped airing games prior to last season after then Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. CCTV did show two NBA Finals games in October.
  • Free agent Christ Koumadje has reached agreement with Alba Berlin in Germany, JD Shaw of Hoops Rumors tweets. The 7’3” center was the G League Defensive Player of the Year for the Delaware Blue Coats last season. Koumadje, 24, was in training camp with the Sixers in 2019. International journalist Christos Harpidis first reported the sides were in advanced talks.

Atlantic Notes: Drummond, Edwards, Walker, Morey

The Nets may be hoping for an Andre Drummond buyout in Cleveland to help solve their center woes, according to Brian Lewis of The New York Post. Brooklyn has been short-handed in the middle since parting with Jarrett Allen in the James Harden trade. Veteran DeAndre Jordan remains the starter, but depth at the position has become an issue as the Nets have fallen from 11th to 25th in defensive rating since the deal.

Allen and Drummond are part of a crowded frontcourt in Cleveland, along with JaVale McGee and Kevin Love, who have also been mentioned as potential targets for Brooklyn. The Nets parted with a significant amount of their draft capital in the Harden trade, so the buyout market would be ideal. Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer (video link) and Zach Harper of The Athletic both mentioned a possible Drummond buyout this week, with Harper suggesting it’s “just a matter of time.”

Lewis reports that Brooklyn general manager Sean Marks is expected to hold on to at least one of his two available exceptions so he can be aggressive when buyouts begins. Players can be waived as late as April 9 and still be eligible for the postseason with another team.

There’s more from the Atlantic Division:

  • Celtics guard Carsen Edwards confirmed that the four games his missed earlier this month were because he tested positive for COVID-19, writes Tom Westerholm of Boston.com“I don’t know what I’m allowed to talk about,” Edwards said. “But I mean, I did test positive, and I had symptoms for a couple of days. But then after that, I was kind of just — I lost my taste and my smell, and then after that, I was quarantined. The first two nights were rough, but after that I was just kind of in quarantine just trying to stay out the way and be healthy and get healthy. But I’m fine now. I feel better.”
  • The Celtics likely won’t use Kemba Walker in back-to-back games for the rest of the season, relays Conor Roche of Boston.com. Appearing on a radio show this morning, coach Brad Stevens discussed his plans for Walker, who has been on a minutes limit since returning. “We’ll keep his minutes down. I’m not going to play him in the mid-30s (minutes wise) at any point here in the near future,” Stevens said. “It’s all part of a plan that’s not only for the best interest of this team, but also in the best interest of his career here moving forward. As the season goes on and we get into late April, early May, before the playoffs, we’ll ramp him up a little bit.”
  • Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey is in quarantine for COVID-19 contact tracing unrelated to the team, according to Keith Pompey of The Philadelphia Inquirer.

And-Ones: Felder, Rockets, Musa, 2021 Prospects

Ex-NBA point guard Kay Felder is returning to the Chinese Basketball Association, where he will play for Zhejiang Guangsha Lions, according to Nicola Lupo of Sportando.

The 5’9″ point guard was selected out of Oakland with the No. 52 pick in 2016 by the Hawks before being traded to the Cavaliers. He suited up for the Cavaliers, Bulls and Pistons across parts of two NBA seasons. Felder played for the G League affiliates of all three teams, and joined the Raptors’ G League affiliate, the Raptors 905, for part of the 2018/19 season.

For his NBA career, Felder averaged 3.8 PPG, 1.3 APG and 1.0 RPG. As Lupo notes, Felder averaged approximately 18 points, eight assists, and five rebounds per game during the 2019/20 season for the Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers.

There are more notes from around the basketball world:

  • The Rockets‘ 120-102 loss to the Lakers on Sunday night marked the first Houston game broadcast in China since former general manager Daryl Morey sent out a now-infamous tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters ahead of the 2019/20 NBA season, Marc Stein of the New York Times tweets. Stein adds that Morey’s current club, the Sixers, has not yet had a game broadcast in China this season.
  • Former Nets wing Dzanan Musa will return to Europe to join a new international club, according to agent Misko Raznatovic (via Twitter). The 6’9″ swingman averaged 4.3 PPG, 2.2 RPG, and 1.1 APG across 49 games in his two NBA seasons.
  • Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz of ESPN have discussed which 2021 draft prospects have recently caught their eye in a new top 100 list. Stanford wing Ziaire Williams, LSU shooting guard Cam Thomas, and ASU shooting guard Josh Christopher all merit mention.